Avalanche Education

❄️ Know before you go.

Safety first.

Take an Avalanche Education Course

Interested in furthering your backcountry education? Snowbird Mountain Guides offers avalanche courses that follow the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education Curriculum, as standardized by the American Avalanche Association. Home to unique big mountain experiences and some of the greatest avalanche science pioneers, Little Cottonwood Canyon is the place for your next avalanche course.

Gear Up: As part of our partnership with Mammut, avalanche gear is available to demo for students enrolled in Snowbird Mountain Guide's Avalanche Education courses. Come check out Mammut's touring backpack, Barryvox transceiver, avalanche probe and avalanche shovel. 

Note: Avalanche Education Courses are closed for the season. 


AIARE 1 Course

An introductory course where participants will spend 24 hours spread over either 3 or 4 days planning and preparing for travel in avalanche terrain. Topics covered include human factors, avalanche terrain recognition, "red flag" observations, communication and decision-making, terrain selection, travel techniques, departure checks and companion rescue skills.

Hybrid courses will have evening Zoom sessions on the first 2 days, then 2 full days in the field. All other courses will be in person for the 3 days, a mix of classroom and field time.

instructor digs pit at Avalanche Rescue Course at Snowbird

  • Dates: 2024-25 course dates will be announced soon
  • Times: 8 am - 5 pm
  • Location: Snowbird, Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon field locations, conditions dependent
  • Required Equipment: Touring backpack, transceiver, shovel, probe (Mammut demo included if needed), ski poles, skis/splitboard with uphill capability, climbing skins cut and fitted for day 1
  • Prerequisites: Students must be able to travel in backcountry terrain, with an advanced-intermediate level of downhill skiing or snowboarding in off-piste conditions. If you are new to backcountry ski or snowboard gear, please consider taking a Backcountry 101 Course before your AIARE 1
  • Pricing: $583 (Mammut demo gear and lift tickets included)


AIARE Avalanche Rescue Course

AIARE Avalanche Rescue is an 8-hour course intended to be retaken after participating in an AIARE 1 course to keep abreast of best practices in rescue techniques and to refresh rescue skills. Participants will expand their skill set with advanced topics in transceiver searches, methodical probing and strategic shoveling through drills and realistic scenario practice. Companion rescue is a last resort, but it's essential to keep these skills fresh in the unfortunate event a backcountry partner needs help.

person listens to guide in avalanche safety classes at Snowbird

  • Dates: 2024-25 course dates will be announced soon
  • Schedule: 8 am - 5 pm
  • Location: Determined by the instructor prior to the course. Possible locations include Snowbird and other Little Cottonwood or Big Cottonwood Canyon field locations
  • Required Equipment: Touring backpack, transceiver, shovel, probe, backcountry skis/splitboard gear
  • Prerequisites: Students must have the required gear and be able to travel in backcountry terrain, with an advanced-intermediate level of downhill skiing or snowboarding in off-piste conditions. This course is a good refresher of AIARE 1 skills, but AIARE 1 is not a prerequisite
  • Pricing: $194 (Mammut demo gear included)


AIARE 2 Course

The AIARE 2 Course spans 24 hours spread out over 3 days and provides backcountry travelers an opportunity to advance their decision-making skills in more complex situations. Building on the AIARE Risk Management Framework introduced in the AIARE 1, the AIARE 2 prepares students for being leaders within a small travel group, traveling in more complicated terrain and/or developing a travel plan where resources are scarce.

students learn at AIARE avalanche education course at Snowbird

Students will spend more time making their own snowpack interpretations through snowpit observations and tests, increasing their knowledge of snowpack processes and metamorphism and practicing group management through communication, teamwork and decision-making skills.

  • Dates: 2024-25 course dates will be announced soon
  • Schedule: 7:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Location: Snowbird, Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon field locations, conditions dependent
  • Required Equipment: Touring backpack, transceiver, shovel and probe (Mammut demo included if needed). Snow study tools are strongly encouraged (this could include a crystal ID card, snow saw, hand lens/loop, snow thermometers, rutschblock cord, inclinometer and compass)
  • Prerequisites: AIARE 1 and Avalanche Rescue Course
  • Pricing: $638 (Mammut demo gear included)


Backcountry Trip Planning & Digital Navigation | Ages 16+ | Backcountry

Learn the ins-and-outs of planning a trip into the backcountry using digital GPS web programs and apps, taught by the experts at Snowbird Mountain Guides. Participants will learn how to use CalTopo, or another application of their choice, and utilize its features to assist with navigation, decision making and problem solving. The course consists of a 3 hour Zoom session and a 5 hour in-person session.

skiers using phones to route find at Snowbird

During the online session, students will learn how to utilize CalTopo and its features. The in-person session will focus on instructor-assisted exercises focused on completing a planning session. Exercises can be worked on independently or in small groups.

  • Dates: 2024-25 course dates will be announced soon
  • Schedule: 
    Day 1 (Zoom Session) 5:30 - 8:30 pm
    Day 2 (Classroom) 9 am - 2 pm
  • Location:
    Day 1 - Virtual
    Day 2 - Powderbird
  • Required Equipment: Laptop or Tablet 
  • Prerequisites: This course has no prerequisites, but it is a great complement to AIARE 1 and AIARE 2 courses
  • Pricing: $210 (includes a 30-day trial to CalTopo)


Custom Avalanche Instruction

Snowbird Mountain Guides offers custom avalanche instruction for individuals and small private groups during the months of December and April, availability permitting. Standard course offerings are available (AIARE 1, 2 and Avalanche Rescue) in addition to instruction customized to meet the needs and interests of the group. Certified instructors can assist with preparation for an upcoming course, refreshers, standard courses or custom options. 


Booking/Cancellation Policy


Special Thanks to Mammut

Through our partnership with Mammut, we are able to provide the highest quality gear to our students, clients and staff. We aim to make the learning environment more accessible to new students and maintain the same high safety standard for our cat skiing and alpine tour guests. Our goal is to continue growing this partnership and expand our community outreach and education to make winter backcountry recreation a possibility for everyone who wants to get out and get it.

Guiding & Lessons

Snowbird Center
Mountain Center, Plaza Deck, Level 3

Closed for the Season